A Word for the New Year

What’s your “word” for the New Year? Did you know you’re supposed to have one?

In keeping with the current trend of compressing every thought into a Twitter-sized soundbite, some have decided that traditional New Year’s resolutions just won’t do. Instead, you can opt for a New Year’s word. It’s a more abstract alternative, and it’s supposed to be less stressful than committing to losing 20 pounds by St. Valentine’s Day. For example, my 5-year-old son has chosen “healthy,” which I am hoping will encourage him to eat a vegetable or two before next Christmas!

If you’ve already made a resolution, there’s no reason why you can’t still choose a personal word for 2014. A word that will challenge and stretch you. You can turn to Galatians 5 for some great ideas: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control. The Bible is full of words that, when implemented, positively transform lives.

A patient at the Cross Catholic Outreach supported Minne Health Post in rural Ethiopia.

A patient at the Cross Catholic Outreach supported Minne Health Post in rural Ethiopia.

Ministries can have words too. If we were to pick one word that guides the underlying attitude and focus of Cross Catholic Outreach, I’d say it might be “hope” – hope in Christ, hope for the future of the poor and hope in the effectiveness of the church’s efforts around the world to aid the needy. The word is even in our motto, “delivering food, shelter and hope to the poorest of the poor.” It’s also in the Bible’s definition of faith, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This month, we’ve launched our “I resolve” campaign, in which we are challenging Catholics to “make a New Year’s resolution to build hope” by providing health care for the poor in rural Ethiopia. It’s just one of the many ways that we strive to impart hope to a world filled with despair.

Sadly, many of the people we serve have never felt hope before. For the most destitute families in developing countries, there’s nothing to celebrate on January 1, because each year is the same as the next. If they have a word that drives them to get up in the morning, it’s not a positive one. It’s “hunger” or “thirst.” There’s no use in making a commitment to a better diet or a new exercise program when they are begging for their bread and walking miles to fetch dirty water just to survive.

This year, let’s give those families something to hope for. Let’s fill their bellies, heal their wounds, put their children in school, teach them an employable trade and give them the tools to take charge of their lives. Most of all, let’s manifest the hope that is within us. Let’s live as if God really is in control, as if we’ve come another year closer to the fulfillment of God’s promise that the meek shall inherit the earth.

-Tony M.